A few weeks ago, as I keep mentioning for no reason, I visited the great state of Texas for the very first time! Another fun thing I did?
Hung out with our old pals at W3LL People, a natural beauty brand we fell in love with when we were writing the book.
We figure everyone who’s read the book (and you’ve alllllll read it, right?) knows how much we love them, but just in case: We love them! W3LL People was created in Austin by three people with very different backgrounds a common desire to create high-quality super-pigmented cosmetics that wear like a dream. There’s Shirley, who used to work at NARS—known for its gorgeous colors, especially for face (Orgasm blush, anyone?). There’s James, a charming environmentalist with a marketing background. And there’s Renee, an MD who helps with their formulations.
From the line, I have three favorite go-tos:
1. First up is the Narcissist foundation sticks (I wear color #2), which offers amazing coverage that isn’t too shiny and which is not coconut-oil based, thank god for me. Coconut oil is amazing, but it breaks me out on my chin, so it’s verboten for spot coverage. This one works well for me on undereyes, on my nostrils and on any other spots that need evening out. I also have a friend who uses it, mixed with her face oil, for all-over coverage, and she always looks terrific. So there’s that. Plus, it comes in a stick, making it great for surreptitious, on-the-go application.
2. I also love love love the Universalist multi-use sticks, in matte. These are blush and lipsticks in one, and the color is so concentrated that one sweep provides a bright shock of pink on my lips. I wear #7, and have for years. It’s so freaking pretty! My preferred method of application is to literally kiss the top of the tub, then blend with my fingers. (No, I’m not kidding!) If you prefer a more subtle color, apply then put some gloss or balm on top to dilute it. I’ve also taken to wearing it as a blush. Now, I’m generally averse to wearing blush since I’m pink to begin with, but as Shirley has told me, pink people can benefit a lot from blush because it offsets the natural hue, actually minimizing it. Turns out, she’s right!
3. The Nudist lip tints are also amazing. We wrote in the book about #2, which reminds me of Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, but while I was there I also got my paws on #4, which is a matte, nude pink that I find really chic. The color looks just like Brigitte’s lips in this picture—what more could you want (other than BB’s actual lips)?
Have you ever tried W3LL People? Found any other makeup lines you love?
When I was in Texas last month for SXSW Eco, I did all kinds of fun things: I ate tacos, visited our friends at W3LL People, met up with writer friends, stayed up way too late then woke early to attend some really interesting (and dismaying) discussions about our burning planet…
Being the natural beauty dork I am, though, another highlight was my impromptu visit to Whole Foods’ 80,000 square foot flagship near downtown Austin. This is not just a love letter to Whole Foods, though. Hear me out…
Anyone who’s read the book or the blog will know we love Whole Body, sure. We admire their tough organic standards, and how widely available they’ve made safe, high-quality beauty choices. We like their team, and their scale. But because Whole Bodys differ from region to region, and store to store, you sort of never know what you’re going to find when you visit one. Here in New York, the WB section at Columbus Circle, for instance, is gorgeously laid out, and there’s a nice selection of makeup to play with. At Union Square, my go-to because I tend to work out and play in the lower quadrants of the city, the makeup is crammed in hallway. I still love it, don’t get me wrong, but the shopping experience matters. And if we want to bring organic beauty out of the hippie fringes, nice-looking stores—like Evolue in Los Angeles, and the Apothecary at ABC Home here in New York—are a must.
Of course, small shops devoted to natural beauty are few and far between—and understandably. They’re expensive and the demand for organic beauty products in this kind of setting needs to catch up with the supply. We know that anyone who switches to natural beauty sees their life and their skin and their hair transform. It happened to us, and our friends, our moms and our boyfriends. And we get letters from people all the time telling us as much. Of course, spreading the message is hard—and changing people’s buying habits even harder.
There’s still so much the average American shampoo-buyer doesn’t know about her products—and it’s going to be hard for her to learn if her only options are the confusing, greenwashed aisles of pharmacies.
That’s why we think everyone should read our book, or books like it. And it’s also why we want to see natural beauty scaled way, way up.
When we were writing the book, we had fantasies about curating Sephora’s naturals section: How great would it be, we thought, if you could go in to any Sephora and know with confidence that the products with a green leaf on it (or whatever) had actually been vetted by people informed and passionate about ingredient safety—and effectiveness?
Of course we like the little guys best. We want to support small retailers, several of which are online, and are our favorites—there’s Spirit Beauty Lounge, Nubonau, Nature of Beauty and others. We will continue to support them first and foremost, but if this natural beauty thing is going to get really big, exposure is key. Call me pie-in-the-sky, but we want to see safe, effective and appealing options made available, at reasonable prices, to women and men all over the country, too.
Which bring me to Austin. What blew my mind, and I texted Alexandra as much when I was there, is that I finally saw in person the potential for this whole natural beauty thing—at scale. Here is a giant store (really, it’s almost obscenely big) with a zillion kinds of kale chips and organic quinoa and chickens who lived better lives than we do, and front and center—not as an afterthought, and not shoved in a corner—was a gigantic section, beautifully laid out, well lit with samples galore, teeming with natural and organic beauty products we can feel good about.
I’m not saying Whole Foods is the answer, though it’s certainly part of it. It showed me what was possible.
Now we’d like to hear from you. What do you think natural beauty movement needs in order to grow? More stores? More education? And if the latter, how do you propose we all go about it?